A perfect shooting game from Irene van Dyk helped the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic halt their losing streak when they powered to a 61-52 win over the Canterbury Tactix in Rotorua on Monday.
Winless after the first four rounds, the Magic dug themselves out of a third quarter rut to surge home strongly, recording their first win on the back of the evergreen van Dyk posting a flawless 33 shots from 33 attempts while Julianna Naoupu provided invaluable support with 28 from 35.
Tactix hung in strongly throughout the second half, putting up just two fewer attempts than the Magic but were ultimately let down by untimely turnovers in the final quarter. With the sniff of their first win in the air, the Magic put their foot down, going on to seal the highest score of the competition so far.
The Tactix were able to introduce their second England import for the first time this season, Stacey Francis slotting in at wing defence after recovering from a calf injury. The Magic went with a largely settled line-up apart from Jess Tuki, who was ruled out with a back injury. Her place at wing defence was taken by Elias Shadrock.
It was a measured and low key start by both teams, a lack of defensive intensity providing good attacking flow as the pair went goal-for-goal through the opening exchanges.
The veteran van Dyk was an influential presence early on, great timing and positional play making her a ready target. She was well supported by playmaking goal attack Naoupu, who proved the perfect foil.
Equally impressive at the other end of the court was England shooter Jo Harten, who carried the Tactix scoring load with pin point accuracy. In a high scoring first stanza, Magic had their noses just in front to lead 16-15 at the first break.
A seven-goal unanswered blitz shot the Magic into a position of control within five minutes of the restart as the home team lifted the tempo. Naoupu continued her strong presence with a dominating display, putting in the hard work outside the circle while also returning an excellent conversion rate.
Possession dried up a little for the Tactix, defenders Casey Williams and Leana de Bruin latching on to rebound ball as the visitors struggled to find the hoop.
The Magic completed a strong second stanza with van Dyk returning a perfect 16 from 16 while Naoupu had the impressive figures of 16 from 19.
There was a complete reversal of fortunes in the third quarter with the Tactix providing a strong push as they ate into the deficit. On the back of sharp attacking play where hard-working captain Maree Bowden was to the fore, the Tactix were able to supply a quality service to Harten under the hoop.
At the other end, the visitors plugged the defensive holes, The Magic struggling to penetrate as they turned in an untidy and error-strewn quarter.
With Harten revelling in the space she was provided and rattling in the goals, The Tactix won all facets to edge back into contention.
Magic headed to the last break precariously placed when leading 44-41.
De Bruin sparked into life in the run home, snapping up a string of valuable intercept and rebound ball as Magic wrested back the initiative against a tenacious and willing the Tactix challenge.